Facing Your Giants



We are currently embarking on a big project for my son and his baseball teammates.  We were invited to a week-long, out of town tournament where the boys will be playing against ten teams from different places.  To say that it is a privilege to be invited will be an understatement.  This would be an experience that is good for the boys.  They will be playing as a team… and they will be playing as friends. 

However, since there is an age requirement and the games will not be until July, the more senior players will already move to the next bracket, thus, leaving the younger ones.  But given the fact that they have been playing together for the school for two or three years now they all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  You would think that the confidence will still be there despite the fact that some boys are already moving up.

Talking to the parents about the invitation elicited various reactions, though.  At first most of them were excited… REALLY excited.  They saw that this is a great opportunity for their kid.  It’s not just an interschool tournament… the kids will play against teams from other countries, even.  Some parents were just plain gung-ho.  They were very thankful that their son was given the chance to join the team.   They even offered to help in whatever way they can just to get the team there. Their first question was, “When’s the first practice?”

But then, there were parents whose first reaction was fear.  Followed by doubt.  Coupled with disbelief.   Fear: “What if the boys there are twice as big as our boys?”  Doubt: “We don’t want them to get clobbered.  It will be devastating.” Disbelief: “Are our boys good enough?  Maybe they should send more senior players… ours are mostly at the lower age of the bracket .”  (Goodness, the age level’s 11-12.  It’s either they are 11 OR 12.)

And so the strong team that we saw in the beginning started disappearing right before our eyes.  Mainly because there were parents who apparently didn’t see their kids as good enough to add value to the team.  What they focused on were the big players of the opposing teams.  Players they have not even seen yet. 

It is just plain sad.

~ * ~

Who's your Giant?

We all have giants to face at some point in our lives. 

Life is like one baseball game… we are all on the same playing field, but the players come in different shapes and sizes.  You don’t always know what or who you will be up against.  That’s why we equip ourselves… we train, we improve our skills, we build our confidence… we try to make ourselves better.   

We ready ourselves so that when time comes that we come face to face with ‘giants,’ we don’t cower in fear.  We slug it out. 

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  But losing isn’t all that bad if we know that we fought ‘til the end and we gave it our best.  What’s sad is if we give up even before we try.  The game hasn’t begun, yet we have already succumbed to defeat. 

Yes, we don’t always win.  There are giants that are just too big and too powerful.  It is easier to give in to fear and self-doubt.  But then again, what about those times when we win over problems, issues or challenges that seemed bigger than us? What about those times when we made that extra step which led us to victory when all along we thought it was a hopeless situation?  What about those times when we believed in ourselves, our capabilities enough to prove that not every difficult situation is a hopeless one? 


Thinking about our baseball-parent-friends and their reasons for not wanting their children to join the team… reasons that are basically motivated by fear, I can’t help but feel sad and disappointed.  Here is an opportunity that practically fell on our hands… something that other children (and parents) would die for and could only hope for… But they are willing to let go of the opportunity because of fear.  Fear of losing.  Fear of having bigger opponents.  Fear of things not being easy. 

But then life ISN’T always easy. 

Yes, everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinion.  Maybe these parents don’t believe in the other boys enough.  Maybe they don’t believe in their kids enough.  Or maybe they just don’t see the value that this tournament will bring to their child.  I think for my part, I just have to learn to respect their decisions.  I also believe that maybe this is for the best.  We wouldn’t want to have someone in the team whose heart is not in it.  Maybe we are better off with other players who are willing to train, willing to fight, willing to face their giants.

Devastating loss?  I believe that if you give your best, there’s no such thing as a devastating loss.  You may not win the game– but the bonding, the team work, the memories… the over-all experience, these are reasons enough to make one feel victorious. 

Do you only win because you scored higher… or do you win because you lived the experience?

It is all a matter of perspective.

very well said...

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photos via weheartit.com

Heart Matters… A Wake Up Call

if only band aids will work

I was about ten years old.

I have been sick for several days and my parents brought me to the family pediatrician. 

I heard the doctor discuss to my parents about rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart.  I didn’t really understand what they were talking about.  I felt too sick to pay attention.

I remember coming home after the pedia consult.  I was in my room, feeling so sick.  My sister — who I used to fight with a lot — was in the same room with me, but she was active and healthy.  Was even playing volleyball inside the room.  Apparently, she also heard the “rheumatic heart” discussion and took the opportunity to be mean and used the issue to her advantage. 

“You have a weak heart,” she says.  “You will die soon.”

To this day, I can still remember my ten year old self sitting at the edge of the bed, watching my sister playing volleyball, thinking to myself that maybe I had a rheumatic heart… and that maybe I was going to die young. 

I was scared.

~ * ~

It started with a regular check up.  They all start with a regular check up.  Since it’s my birth month, and it’s almost the end of the year, I decided to have the usual annual physical examination.  It was a routine.  A yearly thing.  Though  this year they added ECG (electrocardiogram)on top of all the other laboratory exams.

A few days after the exam, I called the clinic for the results.   The guy I talked to said the results were out already and I told him I would just pass by for them sometime during the week.  But before placing the phone down, I asked him to take a peek and to tell me the gist of it.  I was expecting him to say “Everything’s normal. You may get your copy anytime. No need to rush.”  Or something to that effect. 

Ma’am,” he says, “your ECG has some abnormal findings.  You may have to consult with a cardiologist.”

Huh?!  Did he say abnormal? “What exactly does it say?” I asked. 

Possible left atrial enlargement.”

I didn’t know what to say next.

~ * ~

I’m only 37. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t even go clubbing or stay out late at night.  The only vice I have is I drink coffee.  Maybe I drink too much coffee.  But other than that I don’t abuse my health. 

Okay, so maybe I don’t eat much (I’m always dieting)… and yeah, I don’t like sweating (who does?!), and I’m not exactly the active type of person.  I move slow.  I don’t really like being in a rush.  I used to joke that even my heartbeat is quite slow.  

I googled the enlarged heart condition and found out that it can be caused by hypertension.  Me?! How can that be? I am one of the calmest persons I know.  Heck, I don’t even get angry much.  I don’t easily get worked up on something.  It takes a lot to irritate me. 

Could it be what I eat?  But I don’t even eat much…    

My research also says it can be caused by obesity (uhm, hello?!), or stress.  Or it can be genetic.

~ * ~

I went to the clinic to get the actual results on that same day.  I knew it wouldn’t make any difference since I didn’t understand what it meant anyway, but I just had to read with my own eyes what the findings said. 

My sister met up with me to get the results.  When she saw me, the first thing she said was, “So, your rheumatic heart condition recurred?”  And that cracked both of us up.  I never did let her forget about how mean she was to me when we were kids, and somehow this present occurence reminded us about it.  It was funny because I NEVER had a rheumatic heart.  My parents just didn’t explain what it was that they were discussing at that time.

Now I was faced with another heart issue.  I told my sister not to tell our parents first– because they are the ones hypertensive and I didn’t want them to worry.   I told her I would have a cardio consult as soon as I get the chance.

~ * ~

I kept myself busy during the days leading to my cardio consult.  I tried to defer it a bit, what with all the things that are happening at this time of year.  I went to baseball games, did more Christmas shopping… I even organized and  hosted a birthday dinner for my mom and a Christmas dinner for some friends.   I tried to act as normal as possible.  Heart condition or no heart condition, well, life goes on.

And yet there were nights when I couldn’t sleep.  I’d just lie awake thinking of what would happen if the cardiologist confirms that I do have a heart problem.   My grandfather died of heart failure.  My great grandfather had heart problems, as well.  How will I deal with the condition?

And then the other questions… What if I’ll be needing an operation? Am I ready?  What if I have to be on medication for life?  What if I suffer a heart attack?  Who will take care of me?  What if I just suddenly die… Who will take care of my son? 

Sometimes I get scared.  A lot of times I felt like crying.  But I never did.

~ * ~

I watched an old man on a wheelchair being wheeled in as I waited for the cardiologist to arrive.  The old man was about 40+ years older than me.   It seemed pretty funny that despite our age difference, we were lined up to consult with the same doctor.

As I waited,  a lot of thoughts were running in my head.  I thought about the things that I had to do.  Thought about the things that I wanted to do.  I thought of listing down the places I want to visit, the vacations I want to make.  I thought about my still unfinished Christmas list.  For a moment I was afraid that if the results turn out bad, I might not be able to finish my Christmas shopping for the year.  I brushed that thought aside. 

I thought that maybe I should have brought a friend or my sister along.  No one should undergo this waiting experience alone.  It can be scary when one is left with no one but his or her own imagination.  But then I told myself I am brave enough to do this by myself.

Then the doctor finally called my name.

He looked at the results of my ECG and prescribed that I take another series of cardio exams.  He explained the possible causes of heart enlargement, but said that the ECG results are not always accurate.  He asked if I was feeling anything different, and I said no.  He asked if I notice my feet swelling… and I answered yes, after hours and hours of shopping (which I think is normal).  He said there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves.  He advised me to consult with him again after the results of the next procedure.

I was quite relieved in a way.   

It took me an hour to finish what was supposed to be a 15-minute procedure.  The technicians said they were having a hard time getting a clear picture of the chambers of my heart.  My heart, they said, rests right behind a rib and the bone is blocking the view, thus they cannot measure it fully.  I do have a lazy heart. 

~ * ~

Yesterday I went back to the clinic to get the cardio results and to consult with the doctor again.  Unlike the day before, I didn’t give myself the chance to think of the what ifs and what woulds.  I didn’t even try to make promises (Make me well and I promise to be a good person forever and ever)  nor bargain with the Maker (Make me well and I will serve more in church). 

But I prayed for healing.  And I prayed for acceptance. 

I told myself, too, that should everything come out normal, I will do my best to take good care of this body that I was blessed with.  No more crash diets.  No more caffeine overload.  More fruits and veggies.  Less sugar and salt, more water.  I will smile more.  I won’t get angry unnecessarily.  I won’t even be too emotional nor stressed.  

More movement.  I need to walk more.  I need to move more.  I need to let my heart do its pumping, otherwise it might just grow larger or just wither away. 

And I will do this not out of vanity, but because I want to prolong my life. 

There are still so many things I would want to do, people I want to meet, things I want to experience,  lives I want to touch.  And I won’t be able to do that  if my heart gives up on me. 

~ * ~

It was a false alarm.  My heart is still normal and healthy.  The cardiologist said I just need to be conscious of what I eat and do regular check ups, but over all, nothing’s wrong with my heart.

As I was leaving the clinic, I looked up to the heavens and said a short prayer of thanks.

Suffice it to say that this whole experience has changed me somewhat. 

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photo via google images